Category Archives: Food-borne Infections

E coli outbreak linked to Costco chicken salad spreads to 7 states


19163As of November 23, 2015, 19 people in seven states have been reported to be infected with a strain of E coli that has been linked to chicken salad sold at Costco, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday. The strain is known as known as Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 (STEC O157:H7).

Five have been hospitalized, and 2 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported, the CDC said.

Evidence available at this time suggests that rotisserie chicken salad made and sold in Costco Wholesale stores in several states is a likely source of this outbreak.

Fourteen of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started.

The ongoing investigation has not identified what specific ingredient in the chicken salad is linked to illness.

Costco reported to public health officials that the company had removed all remaining rotisserie chicken salad from all stores in the U.S. and stopped further production of the product until further notice.

Consumers who purchased rotisserie chicken salad from any Costco store in the United States on or before November 20, 2015, should not eat it and should throw it away.

Even if some of the rotisserie chicken salad has been eaten and no one has gotten sick, throw the rest of the product away.

This product has a typical shelf life of 3 days and is labeled “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” with item number 37719 on the label.


Costco chicken salad connected to King County E. Coli case


E coli - Photo NIAIDBy Lindsay Bosslet
Public Health – Seattle & King County

The Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with local health officials, are currently investigating a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 cases that has been connected to Costco chicken salad.

One case has been reported in Washington state. This person, a King County resident, is a teen male who was not hospitalized. He reported eating the implicated product, which he purchased from the Shoreline Costco.

For more information on this outbreak, read this press release from Washington State Department of Health.

If you purchased this product (number 37719) from a Washington Costco, discard it and do not eat it.

People who have eaten this product and feel ill should consult with their health care provider. People usually get sick 2-8 days after getting E. coli.

PHOTO: E coli courtesy of National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease


Costco takes chicken salad off Washington shelves due to E. coli


Escherichia Coli_NIAID E Coli BacteriaFrom Washington State Department of Health

Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” from Costco has been connected with at least one case of E. coli O157:H7 in Washington. Consumers who purchased this product – item number 37719 – from any Washington Costco location should discard it.

The Department of Health, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other western states, are investigating E. coli illnesses from chicken salad purchased from various Costco stores in late October. Washington has confirmed one case of E. coli O157:H7 from King County, who became ill in late October. This confirmed case was not hospitalized.

Others states with confirmed E. coli cased linked to Costco chicken salad include Colorado, Montana, and Utah.

“We take E. coli very seriously in Washington,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist, “and we are working with CDC and state partners to determine the source.”

Others states with confirmed E. coli cased linked to Costco chicken salad include Colorado, Montana, and Utah. In addition to CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture are working with Costco to determine the source of the contamination. Continue reading


Testing fails to find source of E. coli outbreak linked to Chipotle restaurants


chipotleFrom the Washington State Department of Health

Food safety and disease investigation staff from the Washington State Department of Health are still working to investigate the cause of an outbreak of illnesses linked to 27 cases of E. coli O26 illnesses in Washington.

The first round of test results did not find E. coli bacteria in food samples taken from several Chipotle restaurants according to officials at the Food and Drug Administration.

EscherichiaColi_NIAIDThe 27 cases, connected in this outbreak include people from Clark (11), Cowlitz (2), Island (2), King (6), Skagit (5), and Whatcom (1) counties.

Ten of these people were hospitalized; no Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) complications or deaths have been reported. Most people who are ill report eating at Chipotle restaurants before getting sick.

In Washington, the most recent case reported eating at Chipotle on October 24. While health officials believe the risk for new exposures is very low, the number of cases in the outbreak may rise or fall as pending lab tests determine if more ill people have this specific strain of E.coli infection. In Washington, four tests are still in progress. Continue reading


E. coli outbreak likely linked to Chipotle restaurants grows


chipotleFrom Public Health – Seattle & King County

The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli illnesses that may be related to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon has grown from 19 reported Washington cases to 25 as of today.

The Washington State Department of Health continues working closely with local, state, and federal partners on a disease investigation to learn the extent of the outbreak and possible sources of E. coli bacteria.

In Washington, residents of Clark (11), Cowlitz (2), Island (2), King (6), and Skagit (4) counties have been reported as outbreak cases.

Of the 25 cases, 23 reported having been at Chipotle restaurants before getting sick. Nine of the Washington residents were hospitalized. Cases range in age from five-to-60. No deaths have been reported in this outbreak.

There are five Washington restaurants associated with this outbreak: Hazel Dell, 7715 NE 5th Avenue, Suite 109, in Vancouver; 1404 Broadway Avenue and 4229 University Way NE in Seattle; 512 Ramsey Way 101 in Kent; and 1753 S. Burlington Blvd. in Burlington.

The Oregon Department of Public Health has information on cases in that state. The state health agencies and local health partners are coordinating with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration on the investigation.

Chipotle restaurants are under a voluntary closure. The Washington Department of Health Food Safety Program staff are working to establish criteria for the restaurants in this state to reopen.


19 E. coli infections linked to Chipotle restaurants


chipotleFrom Washington State Department of Health

A cluster of E. coli cases led to the voluntary closure of many Chipotle restaurants this week.

The restaurants under investigation are linked to 19 cases of E. coli illnesses in Washington.

Three more cases were reported from Oregon, also associated with Chipotle restaurants.

Seven of the Washington patients and one Oregon patient were hospitalized; there have been no deaths.

Four cases were reported in King County, nine in Clark County, one in Cowlitz County, and five in Skagit County. Three cases were reported in Oregon residents.

While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation. Continue reading


E coli outbreak may be linked to Chipotle restaurants


Health officials say 19 E. coli cases may be linked to Chipotle restaurants in Wash. and Ore.

chipotleBy Hilary N. Karasz 
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Health officials are currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli that may be linked to Chipotle restaurants.

Four cases were reported in King County. While the outbreak is currently under investigation, preliminary information is that fourpeople in King County have become ill, two teenagers and two people in their 20s.

One of the teens and one of the people in his/her 20s were hospitalized. In King County, all four ill people ate at a Chipotle between October 19 and 23.

While the outbreak appears to be linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants, the food or other source of contamination hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation.

Chipotle restaurants in Washington have voluntarily closed until further information on the cause of the outbreak is available.

Chipotle restaurants in Washington have voluntarily closed until further information on the cause of the outbreak is available.

The type of E. coli implicated in this outbreak has not been confirmed but is a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli similar to E. coli O157:H7. It can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting. It can sometimes result in severe, life-threatening illness and death. In general, anyone with bloody diarrhea should see a healthcare provider.

Learn more by reading the Washington State Department of Health and the Oregon Health Authority news releases.

Follow Public Health Insider for updates next week and beyond.


Can Yelp help track food poisoning outbreaks?


yelp-logoBy Barbara Feder Ostrov

When a Shigella outbreak at a San Jose, Calif. seafood restaurant sickened dozens of people last weekend, Yelp reviewers were on the case – right alongside public health officials.

“PLEASE DO NOT EAT HERE!!!!” Pauline A. wrote in her Oct. 18 review of the Mariscos San Juan #3 restaurant. “My sister in and brother-in-law along with his parents ate here Friday night and all four of them ended up in the hospital with food poisoning!!!”

Research suggests that Yelp reviews may act as an early warning system or identify potential patients that public health officials might not otherwise have found in their food-borne illness investigations.

That same day, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department shut down the restaurant. Two days later, officials announced that more than 80 people who had eaten there had become acutely ill, with many requiring hospitalization. Twelve diners went to intensive care units.

Since then, the outbreak has grown to  more than 90 cases in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Continue reading


Want to know what diseases your pet can give you?


From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Good for you?

To observe World Animal Day (Oct 4) the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Has launched a redesigned Healthy Pets Healthy People website, with expanded information about diseases people can catch from pets, farm animals, and wildlife.

Users can now search alphabetically by animal and learn which zoonotic diseases they may carry. It is a unique “one-stop shop” where people can learn simple actions to protect themselves – and their pets.

The redesigned website offers:

  • An alphabetized list and description of diseases that can spread from animals to humans.
  • A list of animal species with the description of diseases associated with the animal.
  • Specific groups of people that may be more susceptible to diseases from animals.
  • Tips for preventing illnesses acquired from pets and other animals.
  • Detailed information about the health benefits of owning a pet.

Continue reading


Salmonella outbreak liked to imported cucumbers


Nine cases reported in Washington State

Health officials suspect that cucumbers imported from Mexico may have been the source of the Salmonella infection that has sickened nearly 300 people in 27 states, including 9 people in Washington state. There has been one death linked to the outbreak.

In response to the outbreak, the distributor, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, has voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label during the period from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015 because they may be contaminated with the bacteria.

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 8.22.16 AM

These cucumbers are shipped in a black, green, yellow, and craft colored carton which reads “Limited Edition Pole Grown Cucumbers.” Labeling on the cases of recalled cucumbers indicates the product was grown and packed by Rancho Don Juanito in Mexico. Domestically produced cucumbers are not believed to be involved in this outbreak.

The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber. It is dark green in color and typical length is 7 to 10 inches. In retail locations it is typically sold in a bulk display without any individual packaging or plastic wrapping.

Limited Edition cucumbers were distributed in the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah and reached customers through retail, food service companies, wholesalers, and brokers. Further distribution to other states may have occurred.

As of September 3, 2015, 285 people infected with the outbreak strain, called Salmonella Poona. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows: Alaska (8), Arizona (60), Arkansas (6), California (51), Colorado (14), Idaho (8), Illinois (5), Kansas (1), Louisiana (3), Minnesota (12), Missouri (7), Montana (11), Nebraska (2), Nevada (7), New Mexico (15), New York (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (5), Oregon (3), South Carolina (6), Texas (9), Utah (30), Virginia (1), Washington (9), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (3).

To learn more about the recall go here.



Public health officials investigate E. coli outbreak


Six people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli (three have been hospitalized) Everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by, a local food vendor called Los Chilangos.

From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Escherichia Coli_NIAID E Coli Bacteria

E coli / NIAID

Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli 0157 – one of the most serious foodborne illnesses you can contract. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this outbreak, and we appreciate the support of the community as we work to protect the health of the public.

A person can get an E. coli O157 infection from many different sources: by eating or drinking something contaminated with animal or human fecal matter, through animal contact, or through contact with another person who has an E. coli infection.

One of our responsibilities at Public Health is to track down these sources. When there are illnesses associated with any one of the more than 12,000 food establishments in the county, we search for contaminated products, ill food workers, or improper food handling.

We follow specific steps to find clues that help us pinpoint the source(s) that may be linked to illness. Here are key steps of this current investigation. Continue reading


Fairs and petting zoos are in season: tips to avoid animal-spread illnesses

Rooster looking through the wires of a cage

Photo by dragonariaes

From the Washington State Department of Health

Millions of people go to agricultural fairs and petting zoos this time of year, and children of all ages love to be around the animals.

Taking a few safety precautions can help reduce the chance of getting sick after spending time with animals or their surroundings.

“We encourage people to enjoy their local fairs and petting zoos,” said State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “Just make sure your visit is a safe one. Washing your hands is the number one way to do just that.”

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E.coli and Salmonella, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. Continue reading


Washington firm recalls 116,000 pounds of whole hogs due to Salmonella concerns.


Alert IconFrom the US Department of Agriculture

Kapowsin Meats of Graham, Washington, is recalling approximately 116,262 pounds of whole hogs that may be contaminated with Salmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The “Whole Hogs for Barbecue” item were produced on various dates between April 18, 2015 and July 27, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:

On July 15, 2015, the Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS of an investigation of Salmonella  illnesses. Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between whole hogs for barbeque from Kapowsin Meats and these illnesses.

Traceback investigation has identified 32 case-patients who consumed whole hogs for barbeque from this establishment prior to illness onset. These illnesses are part of a larger illness investigation.

Based on epidemiological evidence, 134 case-patients have been identified in Washington with illness onset dates ranging from April 25, 2015 to July 29, 2015. FSIS continues to work with our public health partners on this ongoing investigation.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating the contaminated product. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time.

The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature,

For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in several places. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

Media and consumers with questions regarding the recall can contact John Anderson, Owner, at (253) 847-1777.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:


USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHOTLINE or visit

Wash hands with soap water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also, wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot, soapy water. Clean spills immediately.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and egg products and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.

Color is NOT a reliable indicator that meat has been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

The only way to be sure the meat or poultry is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, &Veal (steaks, roasts, chops): 145°F with a three minute rest time
  • Ground meat: 160°F
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165°F
  • Fish: 145°F

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase or one hour if temperatures exceed 90º F. Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.


Better know a germ: SALMONELLA

Janice Haney Carr, CDC

Salmonella – Janice Haney Carr, CDC

By Lindsay Bosslet
Public Health – Seattle & King County

Our state, and our county in particular, is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. Government agencies at every jurisdictional level are working hard to stop it.

We sat down with Berhanu Alemayehu from our food safety program to learn more about what people can do to keep themselves safe.

What is salmonella? How do you spot it?
Salmonella is a bacteria that is found on raw meat and poultry, raw eggs, birds, raw fruits and veggies, and even pet lizards. You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.

Why is it bad?
Salmonella causes food poisoning. Within 12-72 hours of consuming food contaminated with salmonella, a person may experience vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and fever. These symptoms can lead to hospitalization if not treated properly.

How do you get it?
By eating raw or undercooked meats (beef, pork and poultry), by eating raw eggs, and by eating raw fruits and vegetables that were processed using same utensils used to process raw meats and poultry. Salmonella is an equal opportunity offender – you can get it in a restaurant, at home, or at a catered event. Pregnant women, babies, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible. Continue reading